Summer 2018 Part 4: Sauger-stock

This summer has also seen me returning as Room Dad for David’s latest show at the fabulous Rock Academy:  Black Sabbath.  Suffice it to say, I’m listening to a lot of Sabbath these days.  (Which is okay.  Really.)

 

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Summer 2018 Part 3: Quincy

The weekend of July 12-15 brought me back to Quincy, MA for Readercon 29.  With Boskone, Readercon is one of the conventions I try my darnedest not to miss, and it was great fun to re-connect with friends from Readercons past, as well as to meet new ones.  Probably the weirdest thing about the convention for me was the absence of several of my usual co-conspirators:  Laird Barron, Jack Haringa, and Paul Tremblay in particular.  But this was made up for by the chance to meet and spend time with a number of newer writers, from Nadia Bulkin to Teri Clarke to Mike Griffin to Gwendolyn Kiste to Farah Rose Smith to Justin Steele to Marcus Tsong to Brookelynne Warra.  Not to mention, more time with the terrific Alexa Antopol, Matt Bartlett, Brett Cox, JoAnn Cox, Ellen Datlow, Gemma Files, Karen Heuler, Nick Kaufmann, Veronica Schanoes, and Chandler Klang Smith and Eric, her pet halibut.  Oh, and who could forget Michael Cisco literally stepping out of an angle, cup of coffee in hand?  (Not me, no matter how hard I might try.)

Highlights of the convention included my Thursday night reading, which was smack-dab in the middle of a sequence beginning with Karen Heuler, continuing to me, then moving on to Brett Cox and finishing with Scott Edelman.

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(photo courtesy of Michael Griffin)

Despite the opening-night-scheduling, there was a substantial audience in attendance, as there was for my coffee-klatch the next day.  I had the great good fortune there to sit at a table with a number of up-and-comers, from Teri Clarke to Stephen Mazur to Marcus Tsong, and to engage in conversation that I found fascinating and rewarding.  Also on Friday, I participated in two scheduled panels, one each on Seabury Quinn and E.S. Nesbit.  (On Sunday, I also took part in a panel to which I was added later-than-last-minute, on endings in horror fiction, and  managed to try the collective patience of my fellow-panelists by complaining at length about the idea that horror narratives are supposed to impart some kind of lesson or moral to their audience.  Oy:  sorry about that, folks.)  Saturday took me to Tony’s Clam Shop, there to be interviewed by Scott Edelman for his Eating the Fantastic podcast.  (Which, I have to admit, was a bucket-list item of mine.)  The only other scheduled event I took part in was Sunday’s Shirley Jackson awards, where my introductory duties included the sad task of briefly memorializing both Kit Reed and Jack Ketchum, friends to the award and fine writers both.  Possibly the highlight of the award ceremony was Michael Kelly’s emotional win in the anthology category.

A good part of the weekend consisted of meals and conversations with various groups of people, a couple of them held at the Royal Hot Pot restaurant, which I highly recommend.  Chandler Klang Smith is frighteningly smart, and we had a brief but appreciative discussion of Dan Chaon’s Ill Will.  I also had the opportunity to listen to Nadia Bulkin discussing Michael Cisco’s theory of weird fiction with him, while I nodded sagely and acted as if I was keeping up with them.  Phil Gelatt and Vicki Dalpe attended their first Readercon, and solidified my judgement that Vicki is one of the funniest people, ever; but I also got to listen to Vicki discussing Experimental Film with Gemma Files, particularly its treatment of motherhood, and to hear Gemma talk about what she’s working on for her follow-up novel.

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Royal Hotpot!

(photo courtesy of Nick Kaufmann)

Once the con was done, I drove Michael Cisco and Farah Rose Smith to the train station in Beacon, enjoying the usual blend of intelligence and sheer ridiculousness I’ve come to expect from him on these yearly jaunts.  Cisco also came up with a story that I am not at liberty to speak about, but that I expect will be appearing soon.  Indeed, I would bet my ass on it.

 

Summer 2018 Part 2: North Bennington

The afternoon of June 30th, I drove up to North Bennington, Vermont to take part in this year’s Shirley Jackson Day festivities.  It’s been about a quarter of a century since I’ve visited the Green Mountain state, and I forgot how lovely  a place it is, and immediately regretted that I would be there for only a few hours.  Somewhat ominously, when I tried to call home to let my wife know I’d arrived at my destination safely, my cell didn’t have service.  Not at all like the beginning of a Shirley Jackson story…

The event was held at the Left Bank, a lovely open space hung with art by local artists done mostly in a weird vein.  Before the reading, Brett Cox, Sam Miller, Sam’s husband Juancy, and I had a nice meal across the street, and then we joined Matt Bartlett in reading from Jackson’s and our own work to a packed house.  In a pleasant surprise, local author John Goodrich came to the event, and we had a fine time chatting afterward.  Many thanks to the fabulous Jennifer Rozycki, director of the John G. McCullough Free Library, for making all of this happen.

 

Brett Cox, Sam Miller, Matt Bartlett, and myself under the watchful gaze of Brown Thomas, the Goat with a Thousand Siblings.

(photo courtesy of Matt’s long-suffering wife, Katie)

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Summer 2018 Part 1: Providence

It’s been a busy summer.  At the end of June, the Honey Badger and I drove up to Providence to take part in a reading sponsored by the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences bookstore alongside the crepuscular Michael Cisco.  On the way, we stopped in to visit Phil Gelatt and Vicki Dalpe, with whom we had such a good time that we were almost late for a quick dinner at the Red Fez restaurant with Cisco, Farah Rose Smith, Matt Bartlett, and Ritchie Tenorio.  (By the way, the Red Fez’s take on poutine is amazing.)  The reading was standing room only, and hosted by the redoubtable S.J. Bagley, whose questions to Laird, myself, and Cisco were typically insightful.  (He’s the first person to have asked me about the significance of time in my fiction, which I greatly appreciated.)  Sadly, Laird and I had to head back to New York not long after the reading finished, but there was still time for conversation with some of the splendid people who came to see us, including NeCon Matt and Laura (which is how I think of them), Cat Grant, Ed Kurtz and Gam Bepko, and Michael Sherman (who very generously gifted me with the first volume of Alan Moore’s Providence).  And Errick Nunnally’s family very graciously tolerated him popping in for a visit.

(photo courtesy of Catherine Grant) Image may contain: 1 person, beard

Book Trailer

Also while going through my video files, I came across several that my older son, Nick, had shot with David and me during a visit several years ago, with the aim, as I recall, of assembling a book trailer for my second collection, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies.  I decided to stitch them together, add a bit of public domain music (“Traveler’s Journey” by David Rafael Krux), and here it is.  (Nick made a previous trailer for my first novel, House of Windows, as well as one for Laird Barron’s stories.)

“How the Day Runs Down:” Post-Performance Q & A (2011)

Seven years ago, Nicu’s Spoon theater company, under the direction of Stephanie Barton-Farcas, staged my story, “How the Day Runs Down” (which, in case you haven’t read it, is written in play form; I’ve described it as my zombie Our Town).  One rainy night in July, my wife and I took the train down to Manhattan to watch the performance.  Afterward, I ventured onstage to answer a few audience questions.  Fiona recorded the thing on our little Flip camera.  I had always meant to edit the thing and share it, but apparently, it’s taken me seven years to get to it.  Consider this a historical curiosity:

The Lovecraft e-zine Podcast Interview, with book list/links

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed on The Lovecraft e-zine Podcast, which is one of my favorite weekly podcasts.  Thanks to Mike Davis, Pete Rawlik, Phil Fracassi, Matt Carpenter, and Kelly Young for their hospitality and good conversation.  If you’d like, you can listen to the broadcast here.

During the show, in conjunction with discussing my recent reviewing for Locus magazine, I mentioned a number of books that are well worth a look.  Some of them appeared this past year, some are a bit older.  I thought it would be a good idea to post links to them here.  If you have a little disposable income, and want to read excellent novels and stories, you might want to check out a few (or all) of these.

Looming Low, eds. Sam Cowan and Justin Steele:  This struck me as one of the major anthologies of 2017.  It brings together a number of up and coming writers of weird fiction with more established writers in the field, and in the process offers fresh insights into the relationships between their work.  (Pair it with Joe Pulver’s Walk on the Weird Side, and you have a nice overview of the state of the field.)

UBO, by Steven Rasnic Tem:  Tem is one of the legends of the horror field, and his latest novel demonstrates why.  It’s an alien abduction story, of a kind, in which monstrous insects spirit people from their beds to a strange planet where they’re strapped to strange machinery that drops them into the consciousnesses of some of (human) history’s greatest villains.  Nothing else I read last year compared to it in terms of sheer weirdness and sheer humanity.  (I also mentioned Tem’s collaboration with his late wife, Melanie, The Man on the Ceiling, which is one of my absolute favorite horror novels of the last decade plus.)

My reviews of S.P. Miskowski’s I Wish I Was Like You and Gwendolyn Kiste’s Pretty Marys All In a Row were posted at the Locus website, but I also wanted to recognize their recent collections, Strange is the Night and And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, respectively.  Kristi DeMeester had a two book year, as well, with her debut novel, Beneath, and collection, Everything That’s Underneath, establishing her as a strong voice in horror fiction.  Nadia Bulkin’s She Said Destroy is a welcome collection of her searing stories; while Philip Fracassi’s Behold the Void contains one of my favorite recent horror stories, the novella, “Altar.”

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe     She Said Destroy     Everything That's Underneath: A Collection of Weird and Horror Tales     Behold the Void     Strange Is the Night

Finally, during our conversation, I had a chance to mention the work of Thomas Tessier, whose werewolf novel, The Nightwalker, remains a favorite decades after I first came across it in a used bookstore after literally years of searching for it (based on Stephen King’s recommendation in Danse Macabre).  It may be the horror novel I’ve re-read the most; certainly, it’s among the top three or four.  Slender and elegant, Tessier’s novels are overdue a revival.  If you like The Nightwalker, take a look at Finishing Touches or Phantom.

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